The UK government has given the go-ahead for the establishment of a National Skills Academy to develop a standardized and coordinated approach to education, training and skills development in the nuclear sector.
An employer-led proposal for a National Skills Academy for the nuclear industry has been approved by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). A detailed business plan for the Academy was submitted to the DIUS in May 2007. The plan was put together by a dedicated project team led by Project Director Jean Llewellyn and steered by an employer-led Shadow Board in close consultation with nuclear employers across the UK. The Shadow Board has representatives from companies including AMEC, BNFL, British Energy, British Nuclear Group (BNG), Centronic, Doosan Babcock, Fluor, Ministry of Defence, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Prospect, Serco and UKAEA.
The Skills Academy will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cogent, the Sector Skills Council for the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, nuclear, oil and gas, petroleum and polymer industries. It will assist nuclear employers in tackling the current and future skills barriers and challenges facing the nuclear industry, not just in relation to the government's clean-up programme, but also for waste management, defence, fuel processing and enrichment, power production and to ensure the sector has the skills and additional resources available for potential new build.
Using the Nuclear Credit Framework developed in partnership with Cogent, the National Skills Academy for Nuclear will develop a standardized and coordinated approach to education, training and skills development in the nuclear sector. From its head office in Cumbria, the Skills Academy will operate via a network of Regional Training Clusters, developing and accrediting local high-quality provision, and creating "centres of excellence" for the delivery of nuclear specialized training, enhanced where appropriate to respond to specific skills gaps as identified by employers. First courses will start in early 2008 and will create a framework for career progression and development across the sector.
Work has already started on what will be the flagship centre of this National Skills Academy. The Nuclear Academy development to be built on the Lilyhall Industrial Estate in West Cumbria is a collaboration/partnership between the Northwest Development Agency (NWDA), the NDA, West Lakes Renaissance, BNG and the National Skills Academy for Nuclear. The facility will provide a wide range of education and training facilities to the nuclear sector, alongside business support services.
The National Skills Academy network was initiated by the government to address the need for a world class workforce with better skills than ever before. It is managed by the Learning and Skills Council working in partnership with the DIUS, the Sector Skills Development Agency and the Department for Business, Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform (DBERR).
The nuclear skills academy joins those already established for construction, manufacturing, financial services, fashion retail, and food and drinks manufacturing. Academies for the process industries, creative and cultural, and hospitality sectors are also expected to open this year. The government aims to have 12 such academies operating by 2008. The Skills Academies are intended to improve the standard of industry training, increase productivity and tackle skills shortages across the UK.
Project Director Jean Llewellyn said, "Throughout the planning stage, nuclear employers have been at the forefront of this National Skills Academy. It is their Skills Academy; which has been developed to meet their needs, and going forward, it will continue to be steered by an employer-led Board, which will ensure the nuclear industry has the skills it needs to continue as a world-class industry."
National Skills Academy
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